March Madness


Danielle Joseph, co-sports editor

As the calendar flips to March, many basketball fans rejoice at the arrival of one of the most famous college tournaments of the year: March Madness.

March Madness is a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I (DI) basketball tournament that features the 68 best DI college basketball teams in the country.

In order to decide which teams are selected and form the bracket, the NCAA basketball committee votes on the seeding of the tournament based on teams performances that season. Once the seeding is set, it is every team for themselves as they aspire to be the team to win the tournament that year.

The tournament began in 1939 when it was formed by the National Association of Basketball Coaches, the NCAA reported. The Oregon Ducks won the tournament that year, defeating the Ohio State Buckeyes 46 to 33. When the tournament first began, only 12 teams were chosen to play; however, as of 2001, the tournament grew to 65 teams and now stands at 68 teams.

The number of viewers have climbed in addition to the number of participating teams in the tournament. The 67 games played in the 2022 tournament had an average of 10.7 million viewers per game, Statista reported.

Along with the great excitement surrounding the tournament, the major thing fans anticipate every year is formulating their bracket. One in four sports fans in the United States fill out a bracket for March Madness every year, according to Morning Consult. Even with that many bracketologists, there is only about a 1 in 120 billion chance in having a winning bracket, according to the NCAA.

The main reason having a winning bracket is so rare is because of the major upsets that fans least expect.

Last year, for example, the Saint Peter’s Peacocks pulled the unthinkable, advancing all the way to the Elite Eight and becoming the first Number 15 seed in NCAA March Madness history to advance that far.

Along with the “Peacock miracle”, there have been many other incredible victories and runs by teams throughout the years, including one of the biggest upsets in March Madness history: the Number 16 seed Maryland, Baltimore County, defeating the top seed Virginia back in 2018 by a score of 75- 54. This is just one of the prime examples why this tournament has lived up to its name of madness.

This year’s tournament has its own potential Cinderella stories. Specifically, I could see the North Carolina State Wolfpack causing some major upsets. They have had some impressive victories this season, including a victory against 16th-ranked Miami Hurricanes, 83 – 81. Additionally, I would watch out for the 11th seeds because they have historically been able to cause some destruction in the tournament. According to the NCAA, since 1985, the 11th seeds in March Madness have won 37.5 percent of the time, which is remarkable considering most people tend to think that the top seeds should come out with a victory in the first round.

So far, this NCAA men’s basketball season has been far from dull with the Associated Press (AP) poll getting shaken up virtually every week. Whether that is unranked Boston College defeating 6th-ranked Virginia, 63 – 48, or 21st-ranked Indiana pulling off a victory against number one Purdue, 79 -74. With the amount of tight and competitive games during this NCAA DI men’s basketball season, I expect the March Madness tournament to be the same because of what we have seen throughout this season.

When looking at the teams who could make the biggest noise in this year’s tournament, I would not count out last year’s NCAA March Madness tournament champions, the Kansas Jayhawks. The Jayhawks have had the number one hardest schedule this season and have still put up a record of 27-7. At times, the Jayhawk’s defense helped them win games, especially during the second half of a 87- 71 win against the number seven ranked Baylor Bears. I would also keep an eye out for the Indiana Hoosiers as they have several impressive wins on their resume this season. Even with a record of 19 wins and eight losses, they have beaten top teams such as the Purdue Boilermakers. The only thing that concerns me about the Hoosiers is the way they match up against non Big 10 teams, most notably their losses against Kansas, North Carolina, and Arizona. However, you could argue that those losses came at the beginning of the season, so things could change when it comes to tournament play. Additionally, I would also keep an eye out for Kansas State because they have recorded some top ten upsets this season, including a victory against the number seven ranked Baylor, 75 – 65, a close victory against the reigning champs, Kansas, 83 – 82, and a dominate win against 9th ranked Texas, 116 – 103. That being said, I would not be surprised if the Wildcats dance their way all the way to the sweet sixteen based off of their play this season.

Overall, with many possible outcomes to March Madness this year, be ready for a wild ride of nothing but upsets and madness.